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Can anybody challenge Cavendish in the 2009 sprints?

Cavendish dominated the 2008 sprints and scored 17 wins

Cavendish dominated the 2008 sprints and scored 17 wins (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

"Cocky", "brash", "arrogant" - you can say what you like about Mark Cavendish, but the statistics don't lie, and those statistics back up the Manxman's repeated assertions that he's merely stating a fact when he calls himself the fastest man in road racing. At the end of a winter break which turned out a little more restful than he expected or wanted, on his return from his team's first training camp of the winter in December, Cavendish spoke to Procycling's Daniel Friebe about some of the challenges which await him in 2009.

Cavendish won more major races than anyone else in 2008, no fewer than 17. The 23-year-old now begins the 2009 season with arguably the strongest team in the sport at his behest, time very much in his favour and the road to yet more success laid invitingly before him. Cavendish's sprint rivals needed no more ominous warning than Bouygues Telecom manager Jean-René Bernaudeau's recent prediction that the Team Columbia man is "set to win everything in [the sprinting] department for the next five years."

Procycling: Mark, the one thing everyone seems to know about your winter is that you injured your left calf muscle playing on the Nintendo Wii....

Mark Cavendish: It wasn't necessarily the Wii! I got on my bike, after my break at the end of last season, and after an hour I started to feel a little niggle. Normally you get a little niggle and you ride on, but I couldn't pedal with this - I couldn't stand up on the bike. I was in a lot of pain. Then the next day was same, and the day after that. This was mid-October, and I'd had four weeks off the bike. I kept trying to go out for a week, and it kept happening, so I finally said to myself that something was wrong. I called the physio and he asked me if I'd done anything which could have hurt it. The only thing I could think of was the Wii. I'd been caning this snowboard game, where your knees move laterally, so maybe it was that, but now everyone's like "Mark Cavendish fell off the Wii and injured himself." I honestly don't know - the Wii's just one possible explanation.

Continue to the complete interview

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Based in the southeastern United States, Peter produces race coverage for all disciplines, edits news and writes features. The New Jersey native has 30 years of road racing and cyclo-cross experience, starting in the early 1980s as a Junior in the days of toe clips and leather hairnets. Over the years he's had the good fortune to race throughout the United States and has competed in national championships for both road and 'cross in the Junior and Masters categories. The passion for cycling started young, as before he switched to the road Peter's mission in life was catching big air on his BMX bike.